Tuesday, June 30, 2015

OUTFIT: New silhouettes

Activity: Meeting for worship

Jacket: LOFT via ebay (similar)
Dress: Talbots, thrifted (similar)
Shoes: BCBG via ebay (similar)
Bag: Marc Jacobs (similar)
Earrings: gift (similar)
Bracelet: Magnolia Farms shop (similar)

I've really been trying to branch out from pencil skirts.  With my body type, that can be a challenge, as that really is the most flattering silhouette for me.  But, with a little creativity and testing, sometimes you can try something new.  (Although I should have ironed my dress, obviously!)  Here's to trying new ideas, whether they succeed or fail...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

REVIEW: Wen Haircare

I'm sure you haven't been able to avoid the infomercials advertising Wen Haircare by Chaz Dean.  I even got several coupons in the mail, maybe you have, too.  I'd always wondered about it, seeing all those celebrity testimonies on the commercials (no, I didn't watch the whole thing...  but enough to see several of those famous ladies with great hair gush over this line).  I'm not sure how many ads I saw or flyers I received before I finally bit, but I did finally bite.

So, here's my opinion, in case you've been wondering, or wavering, as the case may be.  I tried the standard Sweet Almond Mint scent, which is quite pleasant (and appropriate for males and females - my husband and I use the same hair products in the shower).  

I ordered the "Haircare Deluxe Kit" sample offer for $39 which included the items linked below (plus a bristle brush and wood comb).  The items included in the deluxe offer change, so the current offer may be slightly different.  See Wen.com to order directly from them, or many items are available at Sephora (both online and in store) if you want to try it without signing up for a "regular supply" that will include future shipments unless you opt-out.  Amazon also has some options for sale online, if that's your favorite marketplace.

One warning about ordering directly from Wen.  While it's a great deal to get 3 products for $29 or 5 products for $39, that introductory kit includes a "regular supply", which will automatically send you more products and bill your credit card every few months.  You have to call or email them to cancel that service.  There is no easy option to do it online (unless they have changed that recently, as they really need to do).  Plus they do NOT email you any kind of notice before they ship the additional products - and it's a huge box of product that costs $120 that they send only a couple of months after your original order.  So, unless you're positive you want more product shipped to you regularly, at their intervals, be sure to opt out of the "regular supply" plan soon after you order.


Cleansing conditioner: This is their main product, their "bread and butter", so to speak.  And it is a very nice feeling and smelling product.  I also like only having to use one product, instead of using both shampoo and conditioner, which makes the large bottle for $32 a better deal than it may seem.  But, they recommend that you use a HUGE amount every time you wash your hair (a total of 10-16 pumps for short hair, 16-24 pumps for medium-length hair and 24-32 pumps for long hair), so that big bottle goes relatively fast (like in about a month for me and my husband).  Depending on your usual shampoo/conditioner budget, that may be a great deal, or not.  Just letting you know!  They claim you can go longer between washes, but I'm still at my usual 2-3 times per week.  And, although I would call my hair medium-length, I still use the amount of product recommended for long hair to get my hair feeling clean enough to last half a week.  But, several months (and several bottles later), I'm still using it, and don't really plan to make a change any time soon. And I do think my hair looks less dry.  

Here's photos of just before and just after making the switch to Wen - there is a difference for the better!:

BEFORE (pretty fried, right?):


Anti-frizz styling cream:  This is meant to be applied to wet hair.  When I first used it, I was putting it on almost-dry hair, and it didn't work that well.  When I remember to apply it to my wet hair just after towel-drying, it does seem to work better, especially considering that I don't blow-dry my hair so it would normally have a pretty fuzzy texture without hair products.  So, while it's not as good as the Living Proof products I've sampled (which I plan to buy when this runs out), it's not bad.  I do find I have to be careful to not apply too much, or my hair feels dirty that much faster.

Replenishing treatment mist: (This wasn't listed for sale separately that I could find, so this link is for a set that includes this product).  This might be my favorite product of all of them.  Instructions say to apply it to wet hair, which I do, but my favorite way to use it is the additional instruction which says you can spray some on the ends of your dry hair when extra hydration is needed between washes.  Since the ends of my hair get kind of dried out and frizzy as the day goes on, I use this at least once a day to calm things down.

Re moist intensive hair treatment:  This is probably my least favorite of the line, I don't plan on buying it again, but that's mostly because the 30 minute treatment time is inconvenient for me.  Just my laziness, I guess.  I'm also not a huge fan of packaging that doesn't work with one hand in the shower.  I guess I'm not coordinated enough to open the lid, scoop out the product and re-close the lid while holding a big dollop of product in my shower-wet hand.  It does seem to give an extra moisture boost as promised, though.  So give it a try if you're more coordinated than I am.

Ultra nourishing cleansing treatment (I couldn't find a link for this product):  I received this in Lemon Rosemary Vanilla Bean scent, which smells yummy, and also gender-neutral.  It is designed to be mixed into (3-4 pumps at a time) your pumps of cleansing conditioner before massaging it into your hair, to give it an extra cleaning boost. You can also add one pump as a leave-in conditioner, or use it as a hair mask treatment to be left in your hair for 20-30 minutes before being rinsed out.  I will say that it does really boost the cleaning power of the cleansing conditioner, I've been using it each time I wash.

So, that's it.  Hope it's helpful!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

OUTFIT: Finding my style

Activity: Family day at California Academy of Sciences

Jacket: Gap, thrifted (similar)
Tee: Forever 21 (exact) (reviewed here)
Skirt: Athleta, old (similar)
Shoes: Boden, thrifted (similar)
Bag: Ann Taylor, thrifted (similar)
Necklace & pendant: ebay (similar)
Sunglasses: Rayban (exact)
Bracelet: old (similar)

I don't have that many "out-of-the-house" days without a dress code (of sorts), so sometimes the style possibilities for those days overwhelm me.  But I'm finally learning how to adapt to San Francisco's changing "summer" weather, and figure out what is cute, comfortable and adaptable enough for whatever the day might bring.  Turns out I still like wearing a pencil skirt on those days, I just pair it with more casual pieces, like a denim jacket and a loose, faded tee.  Guess there's no getting away from that pencil skirt!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

OUTFIT: Chambray stars

Activity: Meeting for worship

Jacket: Forever 21 (exact) (reviewed here)
Shirt: Forever 21 (exact) (reviewed here)
Skirt: J. Crew (exact in current colors)
Bag: Talbots via ebay (similar)
Shoes: Levity via DSW (similar)
Earrings: craft fair (similar)

I've been taking my new pieces for a test spin!  I loved this combination of chambray and mustard together.  I can't wait to try other ways to wear this chambray shirt, especially combined with more casual pieces.  I don't get multiple items of new clothes very often, so it's fun to have so many new things to throw in the mix.  Isn't that a fun feeling once in a while?

And, can I just mention this app I just downloaded called Stylebook?  I know I'm behind the times, as many fashion bloggers mentioned this months ago, but I've literally never purchased an app (It's $3.99, I think), but I had been wanting to get it for a while.  I'm just in the process of photographing and uploading my photos, and I can. not. wait. to start making virtual outfits with my own clothes!  It's a pretty sweet app if you love playing with outfits.  (As always, not sponsored, just my personal little opinion!)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

OUTFIT: Blush pink throwback

Activity: Meeting for worship

Blazer: LOFT via ebay (similar)
Top: Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Skirt: Paperwhite via Sierra Trading Company (exact)
Shoes: Levity via DSW (similar)
Bag: Ralph Lauren via TJ Maxx (exact)
Necklaces: gift, boutique (similar)

Consider this a "throwback".  It was an early attempt at the lighter colors.  Nothing fancy, but check out that good hair day....  That, at least, is worthy of a post. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Recent Forever 21 purchases review

Forever 21?  Yes, Forever 21.  I remember years ago, when shopping at an outlet mall, my husband asked me if I wanted to go into that store, and I totally mocked him for even mentioning it (as if he would know anything about it...).  But, many years later, when I'm that much older than 21, I've found new inspiration - often via other bloggers, I'll admit.  I've given it more than a second look, I've even purchased several things there.

Here's my latest batch of purchases.  I've been on the lookout for knit tops and tee shirts for a while, as lately my older ones have been hitting the dust at an accelerated pace.  Before I had the mentality: better quality, higher price equals longer-lasting tees.  Actually, nope.  Some of my highest-priced tee shirts from Boden and Neiman Marcus got those tiny holes at the lower front part almost immediately after purchase (caught on jean zippers, I guess?). And I've always been obsessed with whether a fabric would pill long-term with washing and wearing.  Now I figure I don't get that many wears out of a tee shirt anyway, so might as well plan on buying them more often.  So, the $8-10 price tag on these Forever 21 tops is right up my alley.  We'll see which philosophy I end up adopting permanently.

Oh, and this post isn't sponsored by anyone.  Just my little old opinion, in case you might find it helpful....

I bought the items below, plus one great blush pink/peach top that I couldn't find on the website. It's similar to the taupe tee, but a bit longer, with a box-pleat in the back, and a bit less swingy.  I've worn everything at least once (some outfit photos coming soon), so I can share a bit more than just having tried them on.

The taupe swing tee:

This is a very soft, smooth fabric, but it isn't sheer. It is quite swingy, so the bottom of the shirt is quite bit wider than the shoulders.  I love that the scoop neck is the perfect depth - not my usual boring crew neck  but not low enough I have to worry about modesty.  The hem is slightly lower in back and looks great under a blazer.  Downside?  It says hand wash, and when I got a spot on it (first day I wore it, wonder why I normally buy dark colors?), the Shout wipe I used didn't work on this fabric (cotton/modal, I think) and it left a slight water mark.  So the fabric is a bit delicate.  I guess I shouldn't have worn it to do household chores, go figure.  I bought my normal size (for other stores, too), so sizing runs pretty normal (although if your shoulders are larger, beware, it is fitted in the shoulders).

The faded charcoal tee:

This was a bit of a surprise buy, but I loved the faded, casual feel of the shirt and oversized fit.  I've been looking for a looser fit tee to try some different outfit ideas.  I tried my regular size and a size up to see which would give the fit I was seeking, and my regular size worked perfectly to achieve that.  It has the feel of wearing a boy's shirt, but it's shaped for a girl, and the length isn't so long like when you really buy a men's shirt.  The fabric is so soft and almost feels almost like it's been sueded.  My only complaints are that 1) it is listed as hand wash and 2) the over dyed quality of the fabric means you have to be careful the dark dye doesn't rub off on anything.  

This was only Forever 21+ item I bought.  I had been eyeing a similar top to this in the regular-sized section (here is a link, it is currently sold out), but the tulip back scared me away - not super practical.  So, when I saw this one in the store, I thought I'd try it on, although I've had no success with Forever 21+.

Here's the thing about Forever 21+.  There is a huge gap between a regular size large and a plus size extra large.  For certain items, I seem to fit exactly in the middle of those two sizes.    I need a little more room at the bust in the L, but the XL is swimming on me, especially in the shoulders.  Also, I don't understand why the same items can't be sold in the whole range of sizes  - without a giant gap between the regular large and the plus-size extra large.  Somehow there are certain items that come in S-L and different items that come in XL-3X.  I understand in certain styles how it wouldn't carry over well to a larger size, but a shirt like this?  Just sell it in the whole range of sizes, not either regular size OR plus size.

So, rant over.  I knew before I tried it on that this would be roomy.  At least the XL was better than the 1X, but it was still big.  However, because of the button back, it has the trendy feel of the tulip back top I had been looking at, without the impracticality of actually having the open back.  And the fabric is nice and drapey, and the front length is perfect, as is the slightly longer back.  The vent to the bottom button is long enough to be stylish without revealing too much (at least on my short-torso self).  I figure I can take the side seams in slightly, and consider taking in the shoulders if needed, as well.  That's 4 easy seams, I can probably handle that.  The shirt looks great with a mustard skirt (sneak peek in photo below, outfit post coming), and would look incredible with white skinny jeans.  I think it'll be good with fitted shorts in hotter weather, too.  This one is washable, too!  Hooray!

Sneak peek of star top reviewed above and open jacket reviewed below:

This was my spur of the moment purchase.  It was the only one I saw in the entire store, and at $42.90, was considerably over the normal amount I spend at Forever 21.  But, the fabric - a slightly textured soft microfiber.  The cut, a relaxed, drapey (could I use that word any more in this post?) open style - like nothing else in my closet.  And the light color, something I've been craving lately.  Perfect for summer in San Francisco - worn 3 times last week already!  Sizing on this one should be based on your shoulders.  I sized down one size (mostly because that's the only one that was available, but it's perfect for me, since the draped, open front is forgiving to a larger chest, and my shoulders are on the smaller size.  My only worry is that perhaps, in cream, it looks a little like a lab coat?  But, I think I can handle that for this little gem. 

Here's some other great items I've been eyeing at Forever 21, if you're interested:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

REVIEW: Cole Haan Air Monica flats

I recently found these shoes (needed with all the walking we've been doing in San Francisco).  They are a bit pricey (I found them almost 50% off at Nordstrom Rack, and they were still not cheap), so I thought I'd share my thoughts with those of you who might be debating whether to make the leap or not...

I have been searching for the perfect pair of black flats FOREVER.  And my trusty brown pair - you know, the ones you can actually walk in all day without blisters - finally died during our trip to Ecuador.  (I would have had them repaired, but when the sole is lost, there isn't that much to be done....  Plus there turned out to be damage on the leather. I got at least 3 years from a pair of thrifted $4 shoes, so I certainly can't complain!)

So, I was really feeling the need for something comfortable that looked appropriate for the ministry work I do.  And I don't always want to wear lace-up sneakers, even when they're cute and I'm in casual clothes.  Enter my little evening solo foray to Nordstrom Rack.  I think I heard the angelic chorus when I saw these little beauties in my size (the only pair I spotted).  I immediately tried them on and walked around in them as I continued shopping (I did mention I was solo, right?  Obviously I shopped my tail off, even though I only purchased these...).  They felt heavenly, especially considering I had been walking all day (we visited Golden Gate Park that day and walked and walked and walked).  I then wore them the next two days while I walked and walked and walked - all without any blisters or issues.  I have rarely found shoes that are not "broken-in" that are fit to be walked in right away.  Truly a miracle.  Totally worth the price.  And, for the time being, a long-time search is successfully ended.  Hallelujah!!

REVIEW OF Cole Haan Air Monica flats: (currently on sale - see color options below!)

Size: True to size.  I wore my normal size, and they fit great.  The slightly elasticized back helps customize the fit, without being so tight that it hurts or makes marks (I've stayed away from elasticized backs in the past due to experiencing exactly that).
Width: I bought the regular width, and found them comfortable.  As my feet are on the wider side, you may want to try these on in person if your feet are extremely narrow.  They also come over my bunions, rather than cutting across it, something very important for me (I hope you don't have to worry about that!).
Color:  True black, with patent and regular leather sections.  The hardware is gold-tone.
Sole: Non-skid rubber, and very lightweight.
Heel: A small wedge (super tiny) makes these more comfortable to wear than truly flat shoes.
Arch support:  While there isn't an arch supporting insole, there is that wonderful Nike Air technology within the inner sole, which makes them so comfortable.  And the lining is more cushioning than even some of the nicer ballet flats.  (Somehow shoe companies seem to think ballet flats don't need any cushion or arch support at all - duh.)  If you need orthotic support, probably don't spend the money on these, because you're wasting all that yummy squishy support that will be hidden under the orthotics. 
Quality:  Very good, as expected from this brand at this price point.  The studs seem well connected and there are no flaws in the leather or construction.
Style:  These are very cute and classic.  They are a tiny bit cutesy for me, but it's growing on me.  I included some similar styles without a bow below, in case you prefer that.
Comfort:  So, so comfortable.  As I mentioned, I have already walked for hours in these, without blisters or pain.  My feet are a bit tired at the very end of the day, but nothing like they would be in any other type of dressier shoe.
Comments:  If you're looking for something cute and comfortable, give these a try!  They're on sale right now, so it might be a good time to give it a test-drive for yourself.  I'm very pleased with my purchase.  I'd rather have less shoes, but ones I can actually live my life in.

Here's how it looks on the foot (mine, at least).  Website/catalog photos don't always show that, and sometimes I like to see how it hits on the toes:

Here are some additional shots:

Here are some similar "Air" technology versions by Cole Haan, as well as other color options for this exact shoe - the sale prices are awesome, as these retail at $168:

OUTFIT: Striped dress + denim jacket

Activity: Family day - zoo and beach

Jacket: Gap, thrifted (similar)
Dress: Old Navy (similar)
Shoes: Boden, thrifted (similar)
Bag: Marc Jacobs (similar)
Hat: Stetson (similar)
Sunglasses: Ralph Lauren (similar)
Earrings: pearl studs (similar)

I still struggle with the casual-but-put-together look.  I haven't perfected it yet, but trying this dress with a denim jacket, fedora and cute tennis shoes feels like I'm getting closer.  My style tends to be more dressy, with a blazer and wedges, but sometimes that just isn't practical when I want to play with my son on the playground.  And sometimes, it's just overdressed for my current life.  So, after finding these shoes at a thrift shop and wondering how to style them, I thought I would try my version of this look (found via Fran's blog).  I don't have a black casual dress, but thought my striped one would work just fine.

If you're interested, here are some dresses and denim jackets you can try:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

OUTFIT: Black, navy and olive green

Activity: Meeting for worship

Blazer: Theory via ebay (similar)
Tank: thrifted (similar)
Skirt: thrifted (similar)
Shoes: Levity via DSW (similar)
Bag: Ann Taylor, thrifted (similar)
Belt: self-made using a vintage belt buckle from my grandmother (similar)

I have a theory that outfits made quickly often work out surprisingly well.  I wouldn't normally think of pairing navy and black with olive green, but as I went through several outfit tries this morning (mainly because I just wanted a comfortable skirt that was NOT a pencil silhouette), I ended up with this combination.  While it didn't photograph that well (I did try to adjust the belt buckle, but obviously not enough), it's definitely a color mix I will try again.